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Outstanding vs. Astounding: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 7, 2023
Outstanding means exceptionally good; astounding means shockingly impressive.

Key Differences

Outstanding refers to something exceptionally good, noticeable, or prominent, while astounding implies something is surprisingly impressive or causes a great amount of amazement.
Outstanding often relates to excellence and stands out due to quality or performance, such as an outstanding student. Astounding, however, carries a sense of overwhelming surprise or wonder, such as an astounding magic trick. In the context of achievements, something outstanding is markedly high in quality, while something astounding is so remarkable that it may be hard to believe.
Outstanding can also imply something that is unresolved or pending, like an outstanding balance, whereas astounding does not have this connotation. In the realm of perceptions, to say something is outstanding is to acknowledge its superiority or distinction in comparison to others. To call something astounding is to express that it has caused astonishment or has been unexpectedly impressive.
In usage, outstanding often appears in formal evaluations or assessments, highlighting superior status, such as outstanding debts or achievements. Astounding, on the other hand, is used to express a reaction to something that is shockingly or unexpectedly impressive, often exceeding all expectations.

Comparison Chart


Exceptionally good or prominent
Surprisingly impressive or amazing


Quality, superiority, unresolved
Shock, surprise, disbelief


Formal assessments, achievements
Expressing strong reactions

Secondary Meanings

Unresolved, unpaid
None related to completion status


Admiration, respect
Amazement, wonder

Outstanding and Astounding Definitions


The company has several outstanding issues to resolve.


The magician’s trick was astounding.


His performance was outstanding.


His recovery after the accident was astounding.


She has an outstanding reputation in her field.


Her memory for details is astounding.


The landmark is outstanding on the city’s skyline.


The clarity of the photograph was astounding.


There is an outstanding balance on your account.


The number of stars in the sky is astounding.


Excellent or exceptionally good
An outstanding essay that received an A+.


To astonish and bewilder.


Noticeable or conspicuous
"Thiamine deficiency alone generally produces peripheral neuritis and numbness as its most outstanding features" (Vernon H. Mark).


Present participle of astound


That astounds or astound.
Astounding success; an astounding spectacle


Of a nature to astound; astonishing; amazing; as, an astounding force, statement, or fact.


Bewildering or striking dumb with wonder


So surprisingly impressive as to stun or overwhelm;
Such an enormous response was astonishing
An astounding achievement
The amount of money required was staggering
Suffered a staggering defeat
The figure inside the boucle dress was stupefying


Can outstanding mean something is standing out physically?

Yes, it can mean conspicuously noticeable.

Does outstanding have a sense of completion?

No, it can imply something is still pending or unresolved.

What is the primary meaning of outstanding?

Outstanding means exceptionally good or prominent.

Is astounding used to describe something normal?

No, astounding describes something that causes great surprise or amazement.

Can a person be described as astounding?

Yes, if they cause amazement due to their actions or characteristics.

Is astounding used in formal evaluations?

Rarely, it's more about expressing surprise or shock.

Can outstanding refer to something negative?

No, it usually refers to something notably positive or something that is pending.

Can something be outstandingly astounding?

Yes, combining them implies something is exceptionally surprising.

Does astounding imply something is good?

Not always, but it usually implies it is impressively surprising.

Is it correct to say "an outstanding surprise"?

No, "outstanding" is not typically used to describe a surprise.

Could a movie be both outstanding and astounding?

Yes, if it's exceptionally good (outstanding) and surprising (astounding).

Are outstanding and astounding interchangeable?

No, they have different nuances and are not typically interchangeable.

Can I say "an astounding debt"?

No, "astounding" is not used to describe debts.

Does outstanding always mean excellent?

It often does, but it can also mean prominent or pending.

Is astounding a reaction or a quality?

It's more of a reaction to a surprising quality.

Can technology be outstanding?

Yes, if it is superior or prominent in its field.

Can outstanding refer to an unpaid debt?

Yes, such as "an outstanding bill".

Can the end of a movie be astounding?

Yes, if it's shockingly unexpected.

Can a book be both outstanding and astounding?

Yes, for its excellent quality (outstanding) and surprising elements (astounding).

Can a fact be outstanding?

Yes, if it's exceptionally notable.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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